UBC Undergraduate Research

The Potential Effects of Tethered-Based Forest Harvesting Systems on Soil Disturbance in Coastal British Columbia Atherton, Jacob


While there are a variety of forest harvesting systems, there are few able to operate within the constraints of the increasingly harder to access timber supplies found in the mountains of the coastal region of British Columbia. While ground-based systems can access the more flat, unbroken terrain, steeper mountainous areas are limited to aerial-based systems, cable-based systems, and tethered-based systems, the latter being the focus of this paper. Tethered-based systems, namely tethered feller-bunchers, operate through working with a winching system upslope from the machine that allow for increased traction when operating (Sessions et al., 2017). This allows for these machines to operate on steeper slopes than their untethered counterparts (Sessions et al., 2017). While this method is generally more efficient and cost-effective compared to cable-based and aerial-based systems, it is important to note the effect of these machines on the soils in which they operate (Sessions et al., 2017). This paper assesses the issues associated with operating this machinery on steeper slopes. Research and knowledge on soil disturbance using ground-based harvesting methods, coupled with steep slope soil characteristics, will be used to examine the potential negative effects for harvesting with tethered-based system on soil disturbance, soil compaction, and slope stability.

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